Bring them home! Ministers urged to act over Black Country families stranded in Asia
"Bring our people home!"
That is the message from Black Country MPs, who have urged the Government to urgently repatriate Brits who are stuck abroad due to the coronavirus crisis.
Ministers believe hundreds of thousands of people from the UK have been left stranded after a number of foreign countries went into lockdown and closed their airports.
And hundreds of people from the Black Country are thought to be involved, with the bulk of them stuck in India and Pakistan – both of which have travel restrictions in place due to Covid-19
Wolverhampton South West Conservative MP Stuart Anderson said he had been in contact with constituents who were in both countries and unable to get home.
"I have people there with medical conditions who can't get the medication they need and can't return home," he told the Commons, before asking Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to do "everything in his power to return my constituents back to Wolverhampton".
John Spellar, the Labour MP for Warley, said he had been contacted by constituents trapped in India and Pakistan due to the closure of airports there.
"But all around the world there are thousands of planes and pilots that are under-employed or indeed even laid off," he said.
"Isn't there a real role for government, to actually mobilise the aviation industry, the airports and indeed in cooperation with those other governments, actually get the airlift working to bring our people home?"
Mr Raab said the Government was in discussions with individual airlines over plans to fly Brits home.
He said he was aware of particular logistical challenges associated with bringing people home from India and Pakistan, and said ministers were working "day and night" to overcome them.
Regarding airlines he said there was "a practical, legal question of can those airlines can get into the relevant countries and jurisdictions", an issue he vowed to bring up with G7 leaders today.
India announced a ban on entry to all travellers from the UK, EU, and Turkey on March 18. All commercial flights have been suspended until March 31 at the earliest.
Pakistan has closed some borders completely and suspended all flights in and out of the country until April 4.